Improve Your Smile, Improve Your Health
You may not realize all the ways that your oral health can affect your life and even your mental health. Oral health and mental health can be linked in a variety of ways, and caring for your mouth can not only help you feel better, but it can also help your doctor and dentist understand how you are feeling and possibly improve treatment. Even simple dental check-ups can improve your attitude, perspective, and approach to life.
Many patients who suffer from anxiety and depression may have discovered their condition at the dental office. Bruxism (grinding or clenching of the teeth) often stems from lifestyle factors such as excessive use of alcohol or anxiety. In many cases, patients do not even realize they are grinding their teeth, and a dental diagnosis can lead these patients to consider how their mental health might contribute to the habit. Follow-up appointments with a medical doctor can lead such patients to change lifestyle habits, and even to seek professional help for mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
The reverse can also be true – poor oral health can be linked not only to untreated dental or health conditions but also to medications used to treat mental health issues. Dry mouth is very common in patients who are being treated with medication for depression or anxiety and can contribute to gum disease and other oral health issues. Your dentist can help you manage these side effects so that your mouth doesn’t suffer while you address mental health.
The way your smile appears can be a major factor in your overall happiness as well. Research shows that smiling can improve more than your mental health. Inc.com reports that smiling not only boosts your mood but can actually extend your life. A confident smile can change how people view you, making your smile the most effective tool for snagging the perfect job, finding the right marriage partner, and keeping supportive friends in your life.
But what happens when you are afraid to smile because of missing, broken, or stained teeth? Many people avoid smiling because they are self-conscious about dental problems. This unwillingness to show your teeth makes you seem less approachable in general and can affect your ability to enjoy your life. Smiling can actually change how your brain operates – being afraid to smile deprives you of these beneficial physical effects.
Regular dental checkups can do more than keep your smile healthy. Monitoring your oral health can alert you to problems you may not otherwise notice, giving you the opportunity to address them before they become major issues. Modern dentistry offers a wide variety of options to improve your smile and help you to feel confident about showing your teeth.
Your dentist can also alert you to early symptoms, giving you a “heads up” about issues like acid reflux, anxiety, or body chemistry changes. Sharing these changes with your primary care physician allows you to address any issues affecting your health as efficiently as possible. Early detection may even make it possible for you to avoid severe mental health issues. It is important to discuss your oral health with both your dentist and your family doctor to maximize the benefits of regular checkups.
The good news is that with regular dental care, your smile can be the key to unlocking a world of possibilities. Smiling more often can improve your mood and your general health, and, even better, it’s contagious! When you smile at others, they are more likely to smile back, spreading good humor to everyone around you. Contact us today and learn how to spread happiness with great oral health!